“Risk is an essential part of the creative process”

Music feeds on collaboration. A new compilation featuring 18 artists performing in various rooms, stairwells, nooks and crannies around the illustrious surroundings of the National Concert Hall takes it to another level.

In the Echo: Field Recordings from Earlsfort Terrace was produced and curated by Ross Turner, a Dublin-based musician who has performed with Villagers and Lisa Hannigan. Turner is also half of the electronic duo I Am the Cosmos and a former artist in residence at NCH.

The album’s catchy musical couples include: Lisa O’Neill and Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Katie Kim and Seán Mac Erlaine, Paul Noonan and Roger Moffatt, Eileen Carpio and Sean Carpio, Conor O’Brien and Cian Nugent, Brigid Mae Power and Adrian Crowley, Saileóig Ní Cheannabháin and Caoimhín Raghallaigh, and Lisa Hannigan and Crash Ensemble.

“The premise of this project was to explore what could be captured in these spaces versus the innocuous and controlled environment of a normal recording studio,” says Turner. “I focused on the execution of this idea rather than the traditional role of producer or curator.”

August interiors

His wealth of experience and intimate knowledge of the August interiors of Earlsfort Terrace were of great help. “I had to wear my hat as a musician, approaching it from the perspective of people collaborating with someone they had never worked with before in an unfamiliar environment,” he says. “I continued to look at it from all of these different perspectives, all the while focusing on my main role of documenting and capturing everything to the best of my ability.”

The concert hall was originally built in 1865 as an exhibition space. The Guinness family purchased the building in 1871 and began hosting concerts and recitals by Earl John McCormack and the Hallé Orchestra.

It housed University College Dublin from 1908 to 1981 and has many links and intersections with the 1916 Uprising, the War of Independence, and the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Following UCD’s move to Belfield, on the outskirts of Dublin 4, the campus has been converted into a national cultural institution and was officially opened 40 years ago this month by President Patrick Hillary with inaugural performances of the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, the Chieftains and John O ‘Conor.

“There is so much history in the building,” Turner admits. “It became part of the process and the curiosity to look at the spaces in the building and realize that they could be used for a multitude of different things. The concert hall itself has been extremely receptive to facilitate access to different parts of the building.

Unusual room

Paul Noonan (BellX1, House Plants, Printer Clips) and percussionist Roger Moffat worked in a particularly unusual piece that cannot be found in recording studios like Windmill Lane or Grouse Lodge.

“At the time of recording, Roger was the percussionist for the National Symphony Orchestra and stored an extensive range of percussion instruments in what was once the UCD Pathology Department mortuary,” says Ross. “Paul and Roger was the first collaboration we recorded. The play itself has been used for countless TV show sets because it has that quirky, pathological morgue feel that carries a certain energy with it.

This recording informed the rest of the project. “As people signed up, I figured out where the most appropriate and interesting place would be to put them,” says Turner. “It turned into something very different and exciting rather than just bringing people together for fun, or doing a cover album, or whatever people usually do on a collaborative compilation, which is fine, but it is not. Likewise excites me to have an element of risk, which is a vital part of the creative process.


Turner believes the building’s rich history has haunted the recordings in some mysterious way, particularly on Lisa Hannigan and Crash Ensemble’s collaboration, MCMXIV (Roman numerals from 1914, not to be confused with a poem by Philip Larkin from the same. name).

“Above the Kevin Barry Hall, there are three spaces almost the size of a basketball court spread across this facade built in 1914. Anglo-Irish Treaty talks have taken place here and it really looks like it is there. have some energy around that part of the building. I’m not particularly witty, but everything that happened between Lisa and Crash in that room that day definitely tapped into something from the history of the room and what had happened before.

As the title suggests, In the Echo is a collection of field recordings capturing a specific moment in time. “In the quiet moments of Lisa O’Neill and Colm Mac Con Iomaire doing Peggy Gordon, you can hear elements of a storm outside. There is great solace in the music, born from the stormy atmosphere in which it was created. The listener is gently invited by Lisa and Colm.

When I finally get back to music, it’s gonna be pretty weird and different

As for other activities, Ross does not foresee any I Am the Cosmos activity in the immediate future. “I’m currently working on a degree in psychotherapy,” he says. “I was fortunate enough to start this before the pandemic. I am now going to fourth year and doing an internship. I was working with Villagers and Lisa Hannigan before it all ended. Cian, who I’m doing I Am the Cosmos with, has a record store called Optic Music (operating out of Hen’s Teeth in Blackpitts, Dublin 8) so I don’t think we’re that interested or available right now. It’s a good time to focus on education and other things. I played professionally and toured for 17 years so it was a welcome break to do something different and not get so caught up in the music bubble.

Despite a pivot in his primary career, Turner still shares the perplexity and frustrations of his musician friends. “When I finally get back to music, it will be quite strange and different,” he says. “We finished the Villagers album on Paddy’s Day 2020, right when it all started. It was so strange to be in tour mode and then nothing. It was all very strange and interminable.

“Absolutely fascinating”

Turner relishes his new challenges: “It’s been absolutely fascinating so far,” he says. “A lot of it is about personal development and challenging parts of yourself to go through this process with other people. I loved learning from people and witnessing their resilience. I’m very curious to see how this might fuel my music career at some point. A lot of it is about taking care of yourself, so having these other outlets is very important. Music is good because there is nothing like hitting a drumset at the end of the day to release the tension.

In the Echo: Field Recordings from Earlsfort Terrace will be released on September 30.

All together Define collaborative albums

This deadly coil Everything Will End In Tears (1984)

4AD co-founder Ivo Watts-Russell has assembled a dream cast of prestigious label signatures including Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins, alongside luminaries such as Howard Devoto of Buzzcocks and Alex Chilton of Big Star.

The group The Last Waltz (1978)

The Band’s second live album became a Martin Scorsese-directed concert film and cultural phenomenon, starring Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan and inspiring generations of musicians to this day.

Traveling to Wilbury The Wilburys Travelers Vol 1 (1988)

The supergroup to beat them all formed by pure chance. Bob Dylan teamed up with George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty and adopted alter egos like the five Wilbury brothers.

Scott Walker & Sunn O))) Soused (2014)

A bona fide contender for the album from the first quarter of the 21st century. Experimental dress wearing the Sunn O collective))) initially invited Walker to be a guest singer. Walker politely declined for planning reasons, but then contacted the drone pioneers to collaborate on Soused, which would unfortunately become his last studio album.

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